As you age, the need for nutrition changes drastically to cope up with the body's degenerative process. The growth of the cells and tissues slows down but the repairing function is at a higher rate. You experience a wide range of issues from poor immunity, improper digestion, fragile bones and muscles, and fatigue. Physical activity reduces remarkably and you may be prone to metabolic disorders like diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, etc. All this force you to eat less, but eating the right way becomes more important than eating less.
- Carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fluid needs changes in old age.
- Nutrients to be provided in easy-to-digest and absorb forms.
- Small frequent meals that are spread out and spaced at regular intervals in the day.
- Soft cooked foods in an easy to chew form helps if teeth extractions or dentures are being used.
Ageing is a process, linked with a lot of free radical release in the body. Weak muscles, greying and falling of hair, reduced skin tone, wrinkles, proneness to colds and coughs, and lack of energy are symptoms of oxidation. Vitamins like vitamin E, C, A and minerals are needed in right quantities to reduce the ill effects of free radicals in the body. Women should be cautious about their diet in old age because menopause reduces the ability to absorb calcium and they are prone to fractures very easily.
Tips to right eating in old age
1. Fill up your plate with colourful veggie and fruits. Two to three servings of vegetables, 1-2 fruits a day will function as antioxidants and prevent constipation.
2. Eat 2-3 egg whites in a week - a good source of protein vital for repair of worn out cells and tissues. For vegetarians, paneer & curd made from low fat milk is an ideal alternative.
3. Regularising meal pattern with small frequent meals (6-7) in a day aids digestion, absorption and prevents fatigue.
4. Wise use of cooking oils such as gingelly oil, groundnut oil, mustard oil and olive oil helps prevent high cholesterol and improves good cholesterol.
5. Go for whole grains such as quinoa, finger millet, brown rice, steel cut oats over the white or refined ones.
6. Limit processed foods with added preservatives.
7. Always carry a few healthy snacks in your bag, to avoid eating out.
8. Help yourself with foods rich in Vitamin B12, (fortified cereals), Vitamin D (sunlight, fish & fortified cereals), and potassium (bananas, fenugreek, coconut water) as these nutrients are very vital for the brain, nervous system, reduce risk of fractures and to keep up the electrolyte balance.
9. Drink about 8 glasses of water in a day to maintain hydration.
10. Be physically active and do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as walking or gardening every week.
We can ensure that our golden years are truly golden by following simple modifications to our nutrition and physical activity. A wise swap in your life & the more benefits you reap. It's not what age you are, but how well you age has real significance to those who are seeking a long, cherished life.
Taking keen care to lifestyle factors as you age, can help prevent chronic diseases, that hampers the quality of life in later years and helps to keep up emotional and mental liveliness.